The New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) is making community service in business the norm. On Oct. 19, the healthcare division of NJII went to the Barringer High School of Newark, NJ to host its second pop-up health clinic for Newark residents.
The New Jersey Innovation Institute is a not-for-profit “NJIT corporation focused on helping private enterprise discover what’s possible,” by sharing innovative ideas within the business’s respective sector to pursue new market opportunities, says Don Sebastian, the President of NJII. Generally, NJII’s work focuses on generating commercial success. Its Healthcare Division seeks to improve the quality and cost of health care, a task which has required much research and reflection on health care accessibility.
However, it was exactly this evaluation of the health care field that inspired and drove support for the pop-up clinic. NJII’s project manager, Inaceli Tubilleja, explained that NJII noted a “significant gap in healthcare access, access to healthcare data and a gap in health literacy.”
NJII’s Healthcare Division holds a unique perspective as a business accelerator in Newark, which has a large underserved population that especially suffers from the gap in healthcare accessibility. Indeed, according to Newark’s most recently conducted community health assessment from 2014, 28.9% of Newark adults reported lack of health insurance, nearly double the national average of 14.9%.
Tomas Gregorio, senior vice president of NJII’s Healthcare Division, said that “NJII is based in Newark, and these clinics are one way we give back to the community we call home.”
As part of the pop-up health clinic, NJII provided screening for height, weight, blood pressure and glucose levels. Organizers also brought in representatives from Aetna and the nonprofit Kindersmile Foundation to aid attendees in obtaining health insurance and dental care respectively. The clinic also offered aid beyond medical care, including services that help with obtaining housing and combating domestic violence.
Tubilleja elaborated on their first pop-up clinic and the support they garnered. According to Tubilleja, the Healthcare Division was inspired by NJIT’s medical Global Brigades group, and worked closely with the previous president, Faustin Arevalo, for their international service work in addressing health equity. Further, NJII worked closely with Barringer High School counselor, Ms. Tammy Davis, who is their liaison for community needs. This group was able to conduct health screenings for 50 Newark residents for their first health clinic in April 2019.
Although NJII is currently sponsoring all costs, the institute is applying for grants to support this service work long-term and continue hosting pop-ups every month moving forward.
Despite NJII’s position as a business accelerator, it is refreshing to see that the institute understands its surrounding community and continues to give back. For example, “this year’s health clinic will be involving more community organizations for access to social services,” said Tubilleja. NJII also plans to continue to work with NJIT’s Global Brigades program.
Indeed, NJII has plans to continue down this path to grow in civic engagement within Newark, with goals to host a Thanksgiving dinner for families of Barringer High School and to continue collecting social determinants of health data to better understand the community’s needs.